England v Australia: The Aftermath

In the wake of England’s defeat to Australia at Twickenham yesterday, all manner of excuses have been made, and here is our reaction.

There was a lot of talk about the importance of performance versus results. Yesterday, we got neither.

Australia deserved to win, and there’s no denying that, but for me, the biggest issue was the complete absence of a gameplan. Ask yourself now: what were England trying to do?

Geraghty seemed intent on the little chip over the top, even when it wasn’t on. The running attack was lateral, looking for gaps with no real belief that they would have created any. And worst of all, the speed of possession was laborious.

How many times have we seen the tiresome pick-and-go tactic from England in the middle of the park, with no sense of what they are trying to achieve, and no penetration either? The inevitability of phase after phase of slow ball, followed by the turnover, was excruciating.

On a positive note, Jonny is back and was the main reason that we kept the losing margin within single figures. Lewis Moody was also a shining light in a fairly dreadful pack, Courtney Lawes made more of an impact in 10 minutes than Louis Deacon did in 70, and Australia wasted a few chances to make the scoreline embarrassing.

Plenty will be said about England over the coming weeks, but the England coaches should start taking responsibility. Indeed, the injury toll is unprecendented, but does that excuse the lack of a gameplan? The coaches have been together now for some time, but England’s lack of direction continues to stifle, and there is still no light at the end of the tunnel.

Here is Jonny Wilkinson’s reaction to the performance (we’ve edited out most of the questions because the sound was rubbish).


[podcast]/Podcasts/WilkoInterview.mp3[/podcast]

What do you think? Where did England go wrong? What should change next week?

18 thoughts on “England v Australia: The Aftermath

  1. Without having seen the game (great, that is 80 minutes I can avoid wasting), it appears from your analysis (including the in-game updates which were great by the way!) that everything we predicted on here happened. I caught a snippet of Johnno peddling some BS about how they did pretty well, but just haven’t had a chance to “gel” yet. Translation – if we keep doing what we’re doing, it’ll come good eventually. Inspiring stuff – can’t wait until next week now.

  2. Lets start with the players before we start on the coaches. Borthwick was good in the lineout, but yet again provided no leadership, not when things were going our way and shrink into the background even more when things were going against us. Deacon was useless as we predicted. Front row was actually ok. Wilson’s tackling was great as was Thompson’s throwing. Hartley made a great impact when he came off the bench too. Back row was ok, lead by Moody but Crane showed he was out of his depth, where Haskell showed what he can do. The backs obviously didn’t have a game plan or it was so elaborate that they couldn’t implement it. Care was quite good. Wilko was great. Geraghty made a couple of good breaks but otherwise was just too predictable. Hipkiss showed his strength but just wasn’t used enough or in the right ways. Banahan was average. Cueto came to life in the 2nd half (probably through boredom having not been used in the 1st half) and made some good attacking runs but was otherwise dull. If Monye ever plays fullback for England again it will be an unforgivable sin! He was never in the right places, kicking wasn’t great and his running was even running was worse. Lawes should have been on straight away in the first half, but instead we waited till the last 10 mins when we were in real trouble. Why was that? Erinle should be on the first plane back to France – bloody awful!!! Bell was unlucky in his first scrum but otherwise did an average job. Starting to get really annoyed with all the excuses as well. We were crap in the 2nd half, thats why we lost. Austrailia were stunned in the 1st half and while things were going our way it was easy to overlook the lack of leadership and game plan but when Austrailia came to life in the 2nd half all of that became hugely apparent.

    Sorry Johnno, but Borthwick has to loose the captaincy. Give it anyone as they will do a better job. Coaches – stop trying to teach the team different things for each game. Get them playing well with set game plans, types of defence etc etc before trying to be cocky arses!

  3. Agree with a lot of your player analysis Tommy but got to ask the biggest question of all – who is in control of the Enland coaching set up?

    Brian Smith was arguably one of, if not the, best attacking coaches in the country before he took this job. With Irish, there was adventure, there was guile, there was craft, there was inspiration. With England there is nothing.

    So why is that? Has he suddenley forgotten how to coach attacking rugby? Of course not, it is just that it doesn’t seem there is consensus on how to play.

    The sad thing is that we have been here before. Brian Ashton was a pheonmenal attacking coach – witness his first stint in 2001 6 Nations when we were awesome. Yet when he came back, we play this turgid slow lumbering game.

    What’s the similiarity? Wells & Ford.

    Clearly I don’t have the inside line on what is happening at PHP and the ins and out of the politics of this coaching team, but i simply cannot believe that a man of Smith’s vision and attacking intent would be advocating this approach to international rugby. Who knows why, but i think that WElls & Ford’s voice is too loud and that a frankly out of his depth, inexperienced Martin Johson is allowing it to go ahead. SOmeone needs to stand up to them and tell them they are living in the last century – or better still get rid of them all together. Its not even as if their game plan is any good! The Lions showed them up hideously and it can’t go on.

    The RFU (and lets not forget, Johnno himself) screwed up royally by letting these two stay on when they should have left along with Ashton. Living in the real world and recognising that having gone out on a limb to appoint Johnno, they aren’t going to ditch him yet, the next best decision has to be to get rid of Ford & Wells. Do whatever it takes to get Shaun Edwards back from Wales and look at another forwards coach – and you wouldn’t do too badly by starting with Toby Booth at Irish

  4. Martin Johnson’s England exposed as Australia take advantage of indiscipline
    England 14 Australia 28

    We must be getting somewhere boys, no bugger has even mentioned the word indiscipline THIS YEAR. Nor are they baying for Johnno’s blood as they were after the above headline from 12 months ago.

    It ain’t going to happen this year or next or the year after or the year after that probably. I reiterate what I said last year. Every one sat on their chuffs gloating in pride after we won THE CUP without a thought to the future and guess what?The future is NOW!!!! and all the heroes are collecting their pensions. We’re doomed I say, doomed Mr. Manwaring.

  5. There are some fundamental problems with the England approach. I was at the game and felt that the England players were not putting in the effort. With fifteen players like Wilkinson and Moody we could win the World Cup. Thompson was useless (apart from his throwing apparently) and either dropped it or gave away a penalty whenever he touched the ball.

    Apart from that, however, England just did not use their brains. Two instances from the last five minutes when England needed a penalty/ dropped goal and a converted try to win.

    1. Australia have a lineout near the halfway line which they win. They pass the ball to the inside centre who hoofs the ball upfield. The English full back catches it and puts it into touch on the halfway line. So Australia have a lineout on the halfway line and ….. wel fill it in for yourself. Australia are happy to play that game all afternoon. Useless way for England to waste 30 seconds.

    2. England are attacking and going through the phases and not making much progress but eventually get a penalty and Wilkinson puts the ball into touch on the five metre line. England throw-in; maul forms; Australia penalised. England have a penalty just five yards from the Australia line but 20 yards in from touch. Two obvious possibilities are (i) Wilkinson takes the points and England are within a converted try of winning albeit with almost no time left (ii) England take a tap penalty and the forwards try to power over for a try. (i) would probably have been better than (ii) since there were literally seconds to go.

    What England actually did was to kick the ball into touch with all the paraphenalia of a lineout, winning it getting the ball to the centres etc. Play moved out of danger for Australia and they recovered the ball. Unbelievable.

  6. I’ve been harping on about Brian Smith for a while. What is going on? Is it that he’s not all he’s cracked up to be (Irish do not appear to have suffered without him) or is it that he’s one lonely voice in a coaching team that does not value his input (my reckoning – a bit of both, and if he had anything about him he wouldn’t put up with it)? Johnno seems to want to surround himself with people (both players and coaches) with the same kind of vision as himself, which is always going to lead to the same predictable, one-dimensional crap.

    Unfortunately, the only change that would make a difference is the head coach role. I wonder where we’d be now if we’d hired Jake White. Which leads me to wonder how much of this crap we’re going to have to take before we actually do anything about it. Where’s the accountability? Does anyone think Rob Andrew is making Johnno feel like he’d better make some improvement soon or he’ll be out? I doubt it. Can’t see Johnno being ousted before the next RWC. Of course, I would start by getting rid of Andrew as the person that made the ridiculous selection of Johnno in the first place.

    The next couple of games are going to be real fun. Even if we grind something out against a depleted Argentina team, the AB’s are going to give us a thoroughly good rogering. And imagine just how dire things would look if Johnny got injured.

  7. I don’t think it was as dire as all you blokes think! Your boys looked more balanced then they were last year – although somewhat predictable at times with the inside ball they generally did look pretty dangerous. Wilko had a brilliant game.

    Great English teams always seem to have a bullet proof forward pack, and whether through injury or lack of new talent that was not apparent the weekend (moody was great). If the English forwards don’t dominate the Australian pack, it is pretty unusual for the backs to get up and do the job.

  8. Looking at it overall Beeza, I agree with you. I don’t think that the way forward for England is to be slated by all the purists. Sniping at individuals, the coaching team or the manager for that matter will change nothing. All of these things come round and go round. Wales are just coming out of the gloom after their 25 years of dominance of the home teams. For those of us old enough to remember English rugby pre Beaumont there is lots to ponder about history possibly repeating itself (someone else mentioned this last year). History leans heavily to supporting the fact that England need a very strong Captain. A Field Marshall, good enough himself to have respect and strong enough on the field to boolivk whare bollickings are due and to praise the good. Whether Borthwick is that man is up for individual assessment. Personally I don’t think he has the stature or the makings of a rugby giant. England have some undeniably very good and potentially talented players. With the right mix and the right Captain they will come back, but experience on the park is what we are lacking at the moment

  9. Agree with the coaching and management issues, but personally feel the biggest issue is on-field leadership. Borthwick is an average player with less than average leadership abilities. Yet again we saw this on sat – no presence or leadership when things were going our way and completely non existent when things were going against us. Until Johnno makes this change I personally think we will continue to struggle. I’m glad Johnno has loyality to his captain, but he has picked the wrong captain and the team is suffering for it. If Borthwick wasn’t captain, would he make the team? In my opinion, very doubtful. So what makes a good captain? Someone who has the full respect of the team and takes charge of the team. Someone who leads by example, never gives up, never backs down, praises where necessary and bollocks the same way. Someone who can implement the management game plans on the field and realise when to change to plan 2/3/4 etc. Someone that will stand up and take responsibility for their mistakes. For these reasons, if I was to pick the england team, I would do away with Borthwick, have Lawes and Kennedy in the 2nd row and appoint someone like Moody as Captain, with the likes of Hartley and Care/Wilkinson as Vice-Captains

  10. Ok

    Moody, Wilkinson aside, the team was a joke, a solid stable joke but that ain’t going to win us games.

    The backs have an excuse because the quality of the ball was crap, Wilkinsons passing was not much better but he is still great at other things.

    The forwards, I have never seen such a soft English pack, these are where the changes have to be made, my god the Argies must fancy abit of us at the moment. Wilson deserves another chance, Payne was ok and there is nobody else. Get rid of thompson, Hartley is the future and a ball carrier of merit. Both second rows have to go Shaw and Lawes come in, that tight 5 is far more intimidating than the current one. Haskel has to come in he is in good form in France and has talent. Johnno likes consistency in selection but making 4 changes to a pack that got dominated by the Aussies is by no means extreme.

    Geraghty need more time and confidence to play he needs another chance, so to does Hipkiss. Bring Foden in at fullback for some imagination, stick monye on the wing and somebody shoot Banahan the titanic changes direction faster than he does, it doen’t matter how big you are if the defence has time to put 2 props, a winger, the entire back row and a kitchen sink in your way.

    As for the coaches I would like them to allow the players to play a little and shut up with the tactics, off the cuff, play it as you see it. I still believe there is talent in this team, but after 2 weeks with the England coaches that talent walks onto the field like scared puppies, there are signs of over coaching in the england setup.

  11. No way on earth Johhno drops Borthwick or takes away his captaincy (stating the bloody obvious, I know). But that is what is needed. I would even go for Hartley (even less chance of that happening). But who are the other leaders on the park? Players in key positions (2, 8, 10) do not appear to feel like they are responsible for managing the game, as well as playing their individual roles.

  12. Not that it will happen, but this is who I would play this Saturday with the players available

    1. Payne
    2. Hartley (vc)
    3. Wilson
    4. Lawes
    5. Kennedy
    6. Croft
    7. Moody (c)
    8. Haskell
    9. Care
    10. Wilkinson
    11. Monye
    12. Geraghty
    13. Hipkiss
    14. Cueto
    15. Foden

    16. Thompson
    17. Bell
    18. Armitage
    19. Worsley
    20. Hodgson
    21. Strettle / Banahan
    22. Tait

  13. I would flip Care and Hodgson, but otherwise, I’ll go for that Tommy. My prediction – Johnno will probably start Hartley, Lawes and Haskell (and if he doesn’t, it will be stubbornness) but Borthwick and Banahan will keep their places; then we’ll have a pretty uninspiring performance against the Pumas and he will revert back to the old school for the AB’s when we will get battered.

  14. THe common thread in the dreadful forward play or the last 3 years is one thing: John Wells.

    It is perhaps the most worrying thing about Johnson’s tenure that he has not identified this and dealt with it. Is it a Leicester old boys thing? Whatever it is, until that useless swine is gone then England rugby has no chance.

  15. i agree with a lot of the comments here…but please, Care was atrocious and has had lots of time to ‘get’ international rugby. From what I can see all that he does is organise a couple of fat forward around the ruck, slowing down the ball and then pop a pass for a zero yard shuffle then when he does pass he takes that step therefore wasting a second or two and caused traffic in midfield that not even the inform gerachty or hipkiss can avoid.

    Start with Hodgson and put Strettle in the team. A bit of flair is needed and less Gary Owens.

  16. Tommy Agree with that team.

    England lacked any shape in the pack, and that mean the backs played deep due to slow ball and a solid Australian defence.

    PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! create quick ruck ball for these backs, we see what they do with it week in week out in the GP & T14 why would you stifle them behind a slow sluggish pack?

    Injuries or no injuries everyone on the planet apart from john Wells seems t understand that the best way to win a game is score try’s and the best way to do that is quick ruck ball.

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